“The Siren of Sussex” by Mimi Matthews, review + US giveaway

Dear all,

I hope you keep well, have you realised that we are at the end of January 2022 already? I wish you have had a nice month and perhaps you are still following your New Year’s resolutions, if any. I hope one of yours is to keep reading. Therefore, I have a recommendation today: The Siren of Sussex by Mimi Matthews. In case you are not sure, this is not an Austenesque/JAFF book but it does not mean that it is not good!

Apart from my review, if you live in the USA, you could win a great prize full of goodies, moreover, the blog tour is huge! You can read many reviews if you do not trust me 😉

Let me then, introduce you first to the author and welcome her to My Vices and Weaknesses.

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK 

PINTEREST | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS

The Siren of Sussex is the first book on the series of Belles of London, and what I know about this book (review waiting below for you) and the blurb of the second book (and what I know about the two protagonists!!), I believe this series is pretty interesting.

In case you are wondering why I am saying this, let’s also read advanced praise of this book:

“…a tender and swoon worthy interracial, cross-class romance in Victorian London…Readers will delight in this paean to women’s fashion and horseback riding.”— Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Matthews brings the Victorian era to vivid life with meticulously researched details and an impossible romance made believable and memorable.”— Booklist, starred review

“Matthews deftly underscores racial and gender discrimination in Victorian London in this excellent start to ‘The Belles of London’ series; rather than overshadowing, it propels the romance. Romance aficionados who love fashion and animals will delight in this tender romance and will be excited to see Evelyn’s friends in future installments.” — Library Journal, starred review

“Unflinching, tender, and moving, the delicately crafted The Siren of Sussex might just be my favourite work from Mimi Matthews; it certainly is one of my favourite historical romance reads this year.”— Evie Dunmore, USA Today bestselling author of Portrait of a Scotsman

Great comments of this book, but I think it is time for me to let you know what this book is about and then you can read my opinion.

Victorian high society’s most daring equestrienne finds love and an unexpected ally in her fight for independence in the strong arms of London’s most sought after and devastatingly handsome half-Indian tailor.

Evelyn Maltravers understands exactly how little she’s worth on the marriage mart. As an incurable bluestocking from a family tumbling swiftly toward ruin, she knows she’ll never make a match in a ballroom. Her only hope is to distinguish herself by making the biggest splash in the one sphere she excels: on horseback. In haute couture. But to truly capture London’s attention she’ll need a habit-maker who’s not afraid to take risks with his designs—and with his heart.

Half-Indian tailor Ahmad Malik has always had a talent for making women beautiful, inching his way toward recognition by designing riding habits for Rotten Row’s infamous Pretty Horsebreakers—but no one compares to Evelyn. Her unbridled spirit enchants him, awakening a depth of feeling he never thought possible.

But pushing boundaries comes at a cost and not everyone is pleased to welcome Evelyn and Ahmad into fashionable society. With obstacles spanning between them, the indomitable pair must decide which hurdles they can jump and what matters most: making their mark or following their hearts?


What do you think about Evelyn and Ahmad? I am not expert on anything equestrian but I like how this blurb chosen the language related to horseriding as it is a main feature of this book. I will tell you more on my review…

Did I mention that I like the semantics of the blurb? with all the horse-riding jargon? Well, as you can imagine, the dressmaking or fashion lingo is amazing in The Siren of Sussex. You may think that it makes sense as the main protagonist is a tailor, yes, but that does not take away the amazing descriptions that you read about the clothing, be it riding habits or gowns, or the cloth that is used, etc. Exceptional! and I do not even know half of the things that are describe about these attires!

Let’s go with the protagonists now:

I believe that Evelyn has a strong personality with the naivety that woman had at the time. However, she has always a plan. It may not work, it may need to change, to be altered but she knows what she wants and tries to go for it. Although it is not easy. Even more when she starts getting fitted by the tailor who makes amazing habits for the Pretty Horsebreakers. She is not one of them but she wants to outshine them as she is the better horsewoman.

On the other hand, we have Ahmad, the tailor. He is not naif, he has already endured a lot in his life and he just wants the chance to show his work, his extraordinary work. He is sparing with words but what he says something he means everything and there is no doubt of what he says. Let’s say that in a few occasions, you can melt (or at least I wanted to melt).

Evelyn has a plan when she arrives in London for the Season, it is not a selfish plan at all, she wants to do the best for her family (I am not writing the reason why she is the one that has to look after her family, you can read the book). Fortunately, she is not alone, she gets to befriend the Three Furies, I like them very much, they are very different from each other but the four of them have a view of the world that perhaps is not exactly what the polite society deems conventional. They do not care as they behaves and are still ladies but if they want to laugh out loud when they are together, they do (these “small” things that they do differently is what makes them odd for some).

Ahmad is more of a solitary wolf, although his cousin is always there, and he has some friends from his past that are in his life to support him if needed. He also has enemies, mainly one that could jeopardise his objective of opening his own dressmaking shop. Would that person end with all his work and his dream?

As you can read on the advanced praise, the racial and class topic is key in this book too and I believe Mimi Matthews has done a great job to integrate it in a clear way. You can see how Ahmad is treated even by servants when he is a tradesman himself, however, he is not English, well… “full English” (like the breakfast 😦 ) If you were not “pure” English, then you were less than other people. Regarding this topic, the insight on Ahmad’s life and also what we read of the interaction with others reflect very well this issue.

Characters that I have dislike: a Lady and Stephen (I leave it there). You will be able to read why. I think I have disliked Stephen more than the lady who is vindictive.

I have like too many other characters, so I will not write the whole list.

I cannot wait to read more about the Belles of London!!

Are you interested in buying the book? Here you can do it:

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY

BOOKSHOP | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS

Mimi Matthews is doing a giveaway package for US residents only. One winner will get:

Signed print copy of The Siren of Sussex
Horse scarf
Pewter sidesaddle brooch (made in Sussex, England!)
The Siren of Sussex tote bag
Three candles in scents: Fresh Hay, New Saddle, and Winter Ride
Box of Ahmad Tea (60 count, assorted flavors)
The Siren of Sussex bookmark

To participate click on the link below and follow instructions:

Rafflecopter – The Siren of Sussex

Terms and conditions:

Entrants must be 18 years or older. The giveaway is open from 12:01 am Pacific time 1/4/22 until 11:59pm Pacific time on 2/7/22. The winner will be announced on Mimi’s blog – mimimatthews.com – at 8:00 pm Pacific time on 2/8/22.

You can get to know more about The Siren of Sussex if you check the blog tour:

So many reviews and a couple of interviews! I also like to participate in this huge blog tour because I have got to know a lot of reviewers and their blogs that I did not know about.

Jan 10    Cogitations and Meditations (Review)

Jan 10    Heidi Reads (Review)

Jan 10    Reading is My Superpower (Review)

Jan 10    Austenprose (Review)

Jan 10    Eli’s Novel Reviews (Review)

Jan 10    Robin Loves Reading (Review)

Jan 11    Culturess (Review)

Jan 11    Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)

Jan 11    Syrie James (Review)

Jan 11    Wishful Endings (Review)

Jan 12    Amanda’s Book Corner (Review)

Jan 12    Quill Ink (Review)

Jan 12    Relz Reviewz (Review)

Jan 13    Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina (Review)

Jan 13    Roses are Blue (Review)

Jan 13    The Lit Bitch (Review)

Jan 14    History Lizzie (Review)

Jan 14    Life of Literature (Review)

Jan 14    My Bookish Bliss (Review)

Jan 15    The Caffeinated Bibliophile (Review)

Jan 15    Books and Socks Rock (Review)

Jan 16    Heather Moll (Review)

Jan 16    The Bashful Bookworm (Review)

Jan 17    Eleanor Lynn (Review)

Jan 17    Bookworm Lisa (Review)

Jan 17    Novel’s Alive (Review)

Jan 18    The Calico Critic (Review)

Jan 18    Nerd by Nature (Review)

Jan 18    Bobs & Books (Review)

Jan 19    The Secret Victorianist (Review)

Jan 19    Savvy Verse & Wit (Interview)

Jan 19    Captivated Reading (Review)

Jan 20    Vesper’s Place (Review)

Jan 20    Nurse Bookie (Review)

Jan 20    A Bookish Way of Life (Review)

Jan 21    Clarissa Harwood (Review)

Jan 21    Library of Clean Reads (Review)

Jan 21    Bonnie Reads and Writes (Review)

Jan 21    Christian Chick’s Thoughts (Review)

Jan 22    The Literature Chick Book Blog (Review)

Jan 22    Red Headed Book Lady (Review)

Jan 23    Inkwell Inspirations (Review)

Jan 23    Stacy’s Books (Review)

Jan 24    Elizabeth Mahon (Interview)

Jan 24    Jocelyne Reads Romance (Review)

Jan 24    One Book More (Review)

Jan 24    Lady with a Quill (Review)

Jan 24    From Pemberley to Milton (Review)

Jan 25    Confessions of a Book Addict (Review)

Jan 25    Stephanie Barron (Review)

Jan 25    Laura’s Reviews (Review)

Jan 25    Reading with Emily (Review)

Jan 26    Bringing Up Books (Review)

Jan 26    A Darn Good Read (Review)

Jan 26    Lis Loves Reading (Review)

Jan 27    My Vices and Weaknesses (Review)

Jan 27    Katie’s Clean Book Collection (Review)

Jan 27    Lu Reviews Books (Review)

Jan 28    The Reading Frenzy (Interview)

Jan 28    View from the Birdhouse (Review)

Jan 28    Austenesque Reviews (Review)

Jan 28    By the Book (Review)

Jan 29    Cup of Tea with that Book Please (Review)

Jan 29    Chicks, Rogues, & Scandals (Review)

Jan 29    Rosanne Lortz (Review)

Jan 30    Charlotte Brentwood (Review)

Jan 30    Leah Garriott (Review)

Jan 30    Just Another Teen Reading Books (Review)

Jan 30    Literary Time Out (Review)

“A Promise of Forever” by Christine Combe, excerpt + giveaway

Hello! I have to go straight to the blurb because when I read it I was like: WTH!!!

“How dare you think that you can just come along after four years and dictate the course of the whole rest of our lives, Mr. Darcy!” she cried. “You don’t have the right!”

He stood and stepped up to her, and stared down at her with an equally determined expression. “I am your husband and he is my son—I have the only right.”

****

In this new Austenesque tale, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner are Elizabeth’s parents and she grows up happy and carefree in Lambton. At sixteen, Lizzy meets and falls in love with Fitzwilliam Darcy, future Master of Pemberley. The couple decides to elope but they are torn apart by their closest relatives, and when reunited must determine whether the pain of the years that have passed can be overcome to regain the love that was lost.

What?? I am sorry… not! but I have never read an elopement when they are so young, I am not even sure if I have ever read an elopement of Elizabeth and Darcy. Moreover, a son? Four years separated? I need to breath 😀

I may seem a bit crazy but I do not think I have ever considered this path. I also see that it changes a lot as Elizabeth is not a Bennet, but that’s why variations are there, right?

Let me introduce you to the author, who will tell us more and will share a lovely excerpt with us.

Christine, like many a JAFF author before her, is a long-time admirer of Jane Austen’s work, and she hopes that her alternate versions are as enjoyable as the originals. She has plans to one day visit England and take a tour of all the grand country estates which have featured in film adaptations, and often dreams of owning one. Christine lives in Ohio and is already at work on her next book.

You can follow her on:

Blog: All That They Desire / Facebook: (1) Christine Combe | Facebook

I like that she is already working on her next book 🙂 What is it about, Christine?

Greetings, fellow Austenians! I’m so excited to be visiting My Vices and Weaknesses today, the last day of my blog tour for my new book, A Promise of Forever.

If the blurb doesn’t entice you, maybe this excerpt from chapter two will:

***

Elizabeth was jostled awake unceremoniously, and blinked as she sat straight; she’d been quite perfectly fitted to her companion’s side.

“Fitzwilliam?” she queried softly at the same time as she heard Wickham’s voice cry “Sorry!”

“Try to avoid the ruts, will you?!” Darcy called back before he looked to Elizabeth with a smile. “I’m sorry he woke you.”

“It’s all right,” she replied. The chaise was dark, the curtains pulled tight. “Any idea what time it is?”

“Close to midnight, I imagine,” said Darcy. “I can’t read my watch in this light, I’m afraid.”

“You could open the curtains, you know,” she replied.

“Don’t think it would help much, there’s very little moonlight,” Fitzwilliam replied, though he still reached to do as she suggested; when he had, she saw that he was right, as she could still barely see an inch before her face. “I closed them for your comfort once you fell asleep.”

“It was kind of you to be so considerate,” said Elizabeth. “Have you any idea how close we are to Gretna?”

“We’ve some hours to go yet,” he told her. “But before you woke, I instructed Wickham to find us an inn at which to stay the night.”

Elizabeth frowned. “Won’t stopping risk our getting caught by your father?”

She sensed his nod more than saw it. “It does, but we must risk it, my dear. The horses need rest and so do we.”

With a sigh, Elizabeth snuggled into him once more and smiled as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders. “Have I ever told you, Fitzwilliam, that I very much enjoy being held by you?” she asked.

Darcy chuckled. “I do not recall such a declaration.”

“Well, I do. Your embrace is warm and comforting, and I can feel the strength underneath that shows you’re not one of the idle rich,” she explained.

“Just wait, my lovely young bride—I shall show you even more what strength there is in me when we are married.”

Elizabeth froze—did he mean what she thought he did?

***

The young lovers are on the road, but will their wedding be bliss? Leave a comment below for a chance to win an ebook copy of A Promise of Forever, available for purchase from Amazon on Kindle — also in paperback and hardcover!

Contest open until January 25, 2022. Good luck!

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA

Jane Austen Book Club
Babblings of a Bookworm
All that They Desire
My Love for Jane Austen
Jane Austen State of Mind
A Novel Sentiment
Interests of a Jane Austen Girl
But Do Not Faint
My Vices and Weaknesses

“Threads of Magic” by Monica Fairview, review + giveaway

Hello to all!

I was pretty eager to read this book, the second one of the series Mr. Darcy’s Magic after Dangerous Magic (my review here) and it has not disappointed, but I will tell you more about it on the review below. Even if it is a standalone book, I highly recommend you to read the first book and I cannot wait for the third book!

In a magical Regency England, two powerful magicians strive to find a balance between love and duty as they confront enemies who might well be their closest friends.

Elizabeth Bennet may be a heroine, but by defying some of the most powerful mages in England, she has made enemies who will stop at nothing to embroil her in scandal.

So when she is accused of endangering the Royal Mages through her reckless actions, she no longer knows who to trust. Even the gentleman she loves is taking their side. It seems the only person who believes her is the captive French mage who is imprisoned in the cellar at Netherfield.

Meanwhile, Fitzwilliam Darcy is willing to fight to the death to defend Elizabeth, if only she would stop getting herself into trouble. Why does she always have to break the rules? And why does even her sister Jane cause him so many problems?
Join us in this magical Jane Austen Regency variation. Set mostly in Meryton, with familiar beloved characters from Pride and Prejudice, you will once again be enchanted by Elizabeth and Darcy’s struggle to find true love against the backdrop of England’s war with Napoleon.

What do you think? I will just say that Darcy is literally willing to fight to the death to defend Elizabeth, isn’t it, Lord Matlock??

Let me (re)introduce you to the author: Monica Fairview

Discover Mr. Darcy’s world! Author of Jane Austen Variations and Pride and Prejudice fantasy, Monica Fairview has been writing Austenesque novels since 2009. A confirmed Jane Austen addict, Monica Fairview has been a literature professor and an acupuncturist, and is now having fun writing novels set in 19th century England, featuring bonnets and handsome gentlemen in cravats. 

Born in London, Monica lived in the USA for many years. She lives not far from Box Hill, where Jane Austen’s Emma goes for a picnic. Monica loves to chuckle, read, and visit historical places. Sometimes she enjoys doing nothing at all. When she has the time. 

As I said, I was looking forward to knowing what was going on with Elizabeth and Darcy as Royal Mages and Twins, etc. However, if I am honest I wanted to know how their relationship was flourishing… or not. I have to say: obstinate, headstrong girl and boy!!

They are still in a war with France and apparently the French Imperial Army seems stronger than the English one, we see this at the beginning mainly after we get to know that they could attack without being seen… that was a bit confusing in itself and also because of the attitude of the English mages afterwards (I cannot say what happened during that attack!) These are other obstinate people (the more the merrier, they say…)

The issue here is how much Elizabeth is hated or ignored or just simply isolated from everyone as she is not understood, well, her magic is not understood and somehow feared. Darcy loves her but he is too much the first Darcy we get to know even on Miss Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and that makes Elizabeth’s life even worst.

Fortunately, we have two important characters in this story who may be nice to Elizabeth, both mentioned in the blurb, the French Mage (yes, the enemy) and one from the original P&P: Jane (she is always nice though). I cannot wait to read the third book because I am expecting her to appear even if it is in a small role, because what has happened in this book cannot be the end of it (please, Monica!)

Do not call me a traitor if I say that I actually like the French Mage, well, maybe he is not actually French, that’s why I may like him more (let’s say that we speak the same languages). I like what we get to know of his magic too.

There is a happy ending but so far we cannot see a HEA and that’s good because it means we need to read more.

The release is on the 20th of January and if you would like to buy this book, you can pre-order it here:

Amazon US Amazon CA Amazon UK Amazon ES Amazon DE

Monica is giving away one ebook copy to a winner that comments on this post. Have you read Dangerous Magic? If so, what did you like the most? If you have not, have you read any JAFF/Austenesque fantasy variation? Let us know.

The giveaway is open internationally. It will close on the 20th of January 2022 at 23:59 CET. Good luck!

Review of”Her Sisterly Love” by Lucy Marin

Hello to all checking this post,

Here you have my review of Lucy Marin‘s latest book: Her Sisterly Love.

Let me know if you have read it and what you think about it.

Longbourn is actually a nightmare for the Bennet sisters. Her parents literally hate each other and they argue in from of the girls and can be aggressive to each other. Therefore, for many years now, Jane and Elizabeth have taken care of the girls’ education and wellbeing. Both of the older girls but Elizabeth is the stronger force.
New neighbours come to the area: Mr Bingley and family and his friend Mr Darcy. Mr BIngley, as per canon, is enamoured of Jane from the beginning and Darcy is intrigued by that lady that seems to pay great attention to her sisters and to the appalling behaviour of her mother.
Due to the fact that Elizabeth is more like a guardian/parent and something that happened a few years before the start of the story, she is more cautious and she may not believe everything that Wickham tells her, even if she is very curious about what he tells her.
Darcy is soooo sweet trying to confort Elizabeth during the ball. Everything starts being a bit different from here.
I recommend the book for its sweetness and flow of the story. I believe that everybody can like this story because of Elizabeth’s dislike of Darcy changing to puzzlement, then to friendship and finally to love is lovely to read. Moreover, Darcy’s willingness to improve everybody’s opinion of himself is well explained.
In addition to the main two protagonists, seeing Mary, Kitty and Lydia in this way makes it very enjoyable too. Lydia is still Lydia in essentials but with proper manners and common sense. She is great.
Jane was not my favourite character but I did not dislike her, I just found her a bit annoying at the beginning of meeting Bingley when talking about him to Elizabeth and Elizabeth telling her to guard her heart.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

If you are interested, you can pre-order this book on:

Amazon CA Amazon UK Amazon US

“Susan, A Jane Austen Prequel” by Alice McVeigh, excerpt + giveaway

Dear all,

I am very glad to welcome for the first time Alice McVeigh with her latest book Susan, a Jane Austen Prequel. This books shows us a young Susan but we can see how some characters of other books by Jane Austen appear. Here you have the blurb with a reminder of how Jane Austen’s Susan is in her own words:

“She possesses an uncommon union of symmetry, brilliancy, and grace. One is apt to expect that an impudent address will naturally attend an impudent mind – but her countenance is absolutely sweet. I am sorry it is so, for what is this but deceit?“ (from Jane Austen’s Lady Susan)

Sixteen-year-old Susan Smithson – pretty but poor, clever but capricious – has just been expelled from a school for young ladies in London.

At the mansion of the formidable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, she attracts a raffish young nobleman. But, at the first hint of scandal, her guardian dispatches her to her uncle Collins’ rectory in Kent, where her sensible cousin Alicia lives and “where nothing ever happens.”

Here Susan mischievously inspires the local squire to put on a play, with consequences no one could possibly have foreseen. What with the unexpected arrival of Frank Churchill, Alicia’s falling in love and a tumultuous elopement, rural Kent will surely never seem safe again…

So, Mr. Collins is her uncle, oh dear! We may see a bit of the non-sensical parson, or not… What do you think about Susan? You opinion of the adult one by Jane Austen or what you have just read. In here, she started pretty soon to be what we know about her in adulthood. I am very interested on reading this book and it is on my TBR pile for this year.

Let’s know a bit about the author of Susan, a Jane Austen prequel: Alice McVeigh.

Alice McVeigh, a London-based ghost writer, has had two contemporary novels published by Orion/Hachette, one dystopian thriller published by UK’s Unbound (writing as Spaulding Taylor) and an Austenesque novel published by Warleigh House Press.

Her first novel was optioned for filming by UK’s Channel 4; her Kirkus-starred thriller has just been long-listed for Chanticleer’s Cygnus Award; and Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel (Amazon bestseller in four categories in July) has been rated “pitch-perfect, 10 out of 10” by Publishers Weekly‘s BookLife Prize.

You can follow Alice on her website, her blog or on Facebook.

Alice is sharing a excerpt with us and I have enjoyed reading people talking about Susan, mainly Mr Collins! Enjoy!

After supper, Mr Collins uncorked his claret and addressed Edward: ‘And so, what say you, nephew? This deplorably self-aggrandising event is in only two days’ time. The play could scarcely be more ill-chosen; the performances are certain to be risible; and yet – when all is said and all is done – the fellow is our near-neighbour, and has been generous to the girls, besides.’

‘Too generous, sir, in my opinion.’

‘Perhaps, as you suggest, too generous. My dear Charlotte agrees with you. She fears they are distracted, to the great detriment of our connections at Rosings – and to Susan’s studies too. Which she was sent here on purpose to improve.’

‘That is of no great consequence,’ said Edward. ‘Susan will never attend to anything requiring application. Her fancy has always overruled her intellect – and always will.’

‘My own concern is more that the Johnsons’ influence might prove too great a temptation. Johnson himself is inexplicable! – He has hosted dances – inaugurated a hunt – and perpetuated every kind of display imaginable, even before the play! And yet he is also supporting your aunt’s new school, which shall bear his name. Without him, between ourselves, we could never have encompassed it.’

 ‘I have no such fears for Alicia, but Susan… You were not in town to observe the machinations by which Susan secured Lady Catherine’s good graces. Her ladyship, for my cousin, is no more than a means to an end. She does not comprehend the gulf that exists – and is intended to exist – between ourselves and such great people. In her mind, I grieve to say, there appears to be no gulf at all.’

His uncle thumped the table. ‘Precisely! Even her manners, at Rosings, seem entirely different! There is some genius to it, because her ladyship has always preferred young ladies to be reserved and discreet. Her own daughter’s spirits seemed sometimes low to the point of oppression before she was wed, though she has assuredly gained confidence since.’

‘My dear sir, though it grieves me to admit it, Susan can deceive. I have never, in the entire course of our lives, heard her employ a softer tone than she uses with her ladyship. As for pertness, you and

I might observe a thousand instances in a single day, yet with her ladyship she hardly ventures to comment! It is as if there are two Susans: one who is quiet, loves poetry and possesses a most ladylike wit – and the other, who is mocking and provocative and utilises her charm to her own advantage.’

Mr Collins very nearly banged the table again, but his hand still ached, so he forbore. ‘You have described her to perfection! – How ironic it is that the one true actor of the party has never been called upon to act! I know that this entire play – would that the notion had never occurred to Mr Johnson – greatly troubles your aunt, and that she will be exceedingly relieved when Friday is passed. Yet we cannot offend Mr Johnson – and does not her ladyship attend?’ ‘I believe so,’ said Edward.

‘But I have an ill feeling about this play, as does Charlotte – and her instinct is second to no one’s. What a fortunate day it was when she accepted me!’

‘I only wish that I might be half so fortunate. And yet, I did hear that she was not your first choice.’

His uncle sighed, and his waistcoat popped a button. ‘I am astonished that such a rumour ever reached you – yet such was, indeed, the case. Due to the reversion of the Longbourn estate, I considered it most becoming to choose a wife from amongst the five Bennet girls – and I visited there with nothing less momentous in mind.

‘Miss Bennet, an exceedingly sweet, pretty girl, being already spoken for, I made an offer for the hand of the second, who is now married to Mr Darcy. However, my cousin Elizabeth, doubtless already conscious of her own noble destiny, disdained me. Their mother then hinted that Miss Mary would bless herself at such an unlooked-for opportunity – but I had already conceived hopes of persuading your aunt to make me the happiest of men.

‘I shall never forget that day! I set off early – the sun had scarcely risen – to her father’s abode. Imagine my surprise to encounter her, all alone, quietly perusing her psalter – almost as if waiting for me. I can see her now, so composed, that dappled sunlight on her hair…’ He paused, in near ecstasy.

‘Such an occurrence,’ observed his nephew, ‘must have assured you that the marriage was destined to be – though very ill luck on Miss Mary, of course.’

I do apologise for not starting with Susan, but what about Mr Collins and his description of Elizabeth’s refusal and his “decision” of proposing to Charlotte? 😀

Now, what about Susan? She is cheeky, is she not? I like how they explain her behaviour and how she behaves when she is with Lady Catherine, for instance. She seems more than a handful already, it is not difficult to understand how she is later in life.

Are you interested in buying the book? You can do it on different places:

Amazon UK Amazon CA Amazon US B&N

BookDepository WHSmith Waterstones

If you would like, here you have a few reviews of Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel.

From Pemberley to Milton

Manybooks.net

Indiereader.com

Reviews on Goodreads

Do you prefer or do you also like audiobooks? The audiobook of this award-winning novel was released in October. You can read much more about this audiobook here.

Alice McVeigh is giving away one paperback copy for one winner who comments here. What do you think about Susan or Lady Susan? The giveaway is open internationally and it will finish on Sunday 9th of January 2022 at 23:59 CET. Good luck!

“Kidnapped and Compromised” by Demi Monde, excerpt.

Hello,

How is the year going? My year starts with birthdays, yesterday it was the birthday of a non-blood related niece (a best friends’ daughter), today is my niece’s second birthday and tomorrow is my husband’s. So we are celebrating a lot lately, even if it is by videocall.

We have to keep celebrating releases of books too, and in this case a JAFF/Austenesque book: Kidnapped and Compromised by Demi Monde.

I want to point out that this is a steamy variation because I am aware that some people do not like them, and I totally respect that. However, let me tell you that this excerpt does not contain any steamy parts whatsoever.

Here you have a bit about Demi Monde as she will be the one introducing us to Kidnapped and Compromised.

AUTHOR

Bestselling author of sensual Pride and Prejudice variation books, Demi Monde’s books feature Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. She first fell in love with Pride and Prejudice in high school. Mr. Darcy has forever ruined any other man for her. Today she brings her fantasies to life for every fan of Mr. Darcy.

She was born in Missouri, then moved to Iowa in grade school and finally settled in South Dakota which reminds her of the English countryside, if you squint and ignore the harsh winters and humid summers. Her favorite animals are cats, corgis and horses. When she’s not writing you can find her walking in nature, cross stitching, reading, antique hunting and practicing calligraphy.

I like that we share the love of other things that are not only books: cats, cross stitching (even if I do very little) and walking.

Demi Monde is telling us about her latest book. I hope you enjoy it!

Hello Dear Readers, it is a pleasure to be here to share more details about my new release, Kidnapped and Compromised. This is a steamy novella and a work of Austenesque fiction.

Abducted and facing ruin, can Elizabeth’s wits save her from a dastardly plot? And will Mr. Darcy find her in time? 

When a false friend tricks Elizabeth, she is abducted by carriage from Meryton and carried hours away to a bawdy house. If Mr. Darcy does not rescue and pay her ransom, she will be sold to the highest bidder.

Elizabeth must depend on her wits to survive. But the clock is ticking. Will Mr. Darcy choose to risk his life for the woman he secretly loves but who despises him? And if so, can he rescue her before it’s too late? 

This 40,000 word steamy Pride and Prejudice variation features kidnapping, compromise, forced marriage, rescue by Mr. Darcy, double wedding, Christmas holiday ball and a happily ever after.

***

This book opens near the beginning of Pride and Prejudice, with the militia present in Meryton and Elizabeth Bennet’s opinion of Mr. Darcy set, no matter his opinion of her fine eyes.

***

Chapter 1

Mr. Darcy pulled the reins, bringing his horse to a standstill from cantering, and looked around the Hertfordshire countryside. He thought he had heard yelling. But all he saw was an open field, crops in rows, with no one in sight. Fox pranced forward skittishly; no doubt unnerved by his rider’s stillness.

“Miss Elizabeth?”

“Miss Elizabeth Bennet?”

He had definitely heard it this time, over the sound of the horse’s hooves churning the damp earth underfoot. He had not imagined the voices calling for the desirable yet impertinent Elizabeth Bennet. Though she had believed Wickham’s stories about him, and questioned him at the Netherfield ball, he still admired her intelligence and beauty. But he could not have what he wanted. Her social connections and her family’s impropriety would never allow him to be with her in society or even to call on her in Hertfordshire.

He fingered the smooth leather reins as he decided whether to give in to his desire to find the cause of the servants yelling for the Bennet girl or to avoid temptation. The more he was close to her, the harder it was to not speak to her, to make her notice him, to have her admire him.

“Miss Elizabeth Bennet?”

Mr. Darcy nudged his chestnut stallion Fox with his heels and headed towards the figures near the forest. Any gentleman would offer assistance in this situation. And Miss Bingley was not here to tease him for paying too much attention to Elizabeth’s fine eyes.

“You there!” He spied a servant walking at the edge of the woodland. “What is the matter?”

The man pulled at his forelock. “Miss Elizabeth Bennet has not returned from her walk.”

Mr. Darcy had heard of her odd habit of lengthy, daily walks and had seen it for himself when she had hiked three miles to Netherfield to care for her sister. “Surely she cannot be lost? Has she not walked all over this countryside?”

The older man nodded. “Yes sir, but she—” 

“How long has she been missing? What is being done to find her?” Mr. Darcy’s horse shook his head and pawed at the ground, eager to return to cantering.

“Miss Elizabeth has been gone since right after the noon meal, sir. Mr. Bennet has all the servants out looking for her.”

Mr. Darcy frowned. That was nearly five hours ago. Even a country girl with a fondness for countryside rambles would have returned by now. His chest clenched at the thought of her injured on the ground, somewhere at the mercy of the local wildlife. “How many are searching for Miss Bennet? Is anyone on horseback? What is her usual walking path?”

The servant looked back towards Longbourn, the home of the Bennet family. “I do not know, sir. Mr. Bennet is at Longbourn and would answer your questions.”

Mr. Darcy spun his horse and kicked him into a canter. He searched the ground for a beautiful young woman lying injured as he rode. She must have twisted her ankle and was too far away to be heard yelling for help.

It was unconscionable that the Bennet girl was allowed to walk without a maid. Never would he have permitted his sister Georgiana to do the same. Perhaps Mr. Bennet would be more circumspect after this. However, Mr. Darcy doubted it. Control over his family was not one of Mr. Bennet’s strong suits, not with the way his younger daughters behaved at the assemblies or in town, flirting with the officers.

Mr. Darcy guided his horse down the short driveway of Longbourn.

Mr. Bennet looked up at the sound of Fox’s hooves clattering on the gravel path. The family’s patriarch stood in front of the house, directing searchers in his greatcoat and hat. Mr. Bennet turned in Mr. Darcy’s direction.

“Mr. Bennet, I came across one of your servants looking for Miss Elizabeth. May I offer my assistance?”

Mr. Bennet grimaced. “It would be much appreciated Mr. Darcy. However, I am sure my dear Lizzy has just lost track of the time. I have tried to curtail her long walks, but she will not listen to me.”

He chuckled, most likely expecting Mr. Darcy to join in. But Mr. Darcy’s thoughts were far from amused as his opinion of the Bennet patriarch dropped lower. “Men on horseback could cover a greater distance. I am certain Mr. Bingley would provide his servants to help with the search.”

Mr. Bennet widened his stance as he looked up at the younger man who outranked him in every manner. “I thank you for your offer; nonetheless I am sure we will find her quite soon. There is no need to cause alarm among our friends and neighbors.”

Mr. Darcy gathered the reins, biting back the desire to tell Mr. Bennet that a proper search had not been done. He turned, giving his horse the signal to move away from the man and his doddering ways. The eldest two Bennet girls deserved all the credit for their characters. It was a shame they came from such a family.

A young maid darted out from behind the hedgerows lining the lane. Fox reared back in surprise, but Mr. Darcy quickly brought him under control. He turned to the girl, ready to lecture her on not startling horses.

“Oh, Mr. Darcy! I have a note for you. I was going to give it to Mr. Bennet, but since you are here…” She held the stationary up to him.

He plucked it out of her hand with a scowl. It could not be a message from Netherfield. Mr. Bingley would not have sent a young maid alone to find him. “Who is this from?”

“A man in Meryton asked me to give this to you.” The girl gripped her waist, breathing heavily.

He unfolded and read the note, his heart stopping. Mr. Darcy pinned the servant girl with his stare. “How long ago did you receive this? Did you recognize the man that gave it to you?”

“No, sir, but he had a red coat on. He must be one of the militia.”

Mr. Darcy turned his head away to think. The maid curtsied and started towards the house.

“Wait!”

She stopped and looked back, clutching her apron.

“Do not tell anyone. Miss Elizabeth’s reputation is at stake.”

The servant assured him of her silence and continued down the driveway to Longbourn. Mr. Darcy lifted the reins, intending to race to Netherfield and round up his friend Mr. Bingley and servants, but stopped. It was his fault entirely that the honor of Elizabeth Bennet was at risk. The fewer people that knew of this situation, the better.

He needed to move quickly. Mr. Wickham had abducted Elizabeth Bennet.

***

I hope I have piqued your interest, the book is available here: https://geni.us/kidnapped

What do you think? How dare Wickham? Why is he doing it? Has he seen that Darcy admires Elizabeth? Maybe yes, but at the same time, he may know that Darcy would not propose… or maybe he knows Darcy even better than himself? OMG! Poor Elizabeth, kidnapped… and compromised??

The description of the 40.000 word variation gives me hope that everything will be ok, don’t you think?

Mini-review of “The Wedding Setup” by Sonali Dev

Hello, we are starting “strong” this year. Why do I write the inverted commas? Because I have read a short story only, but a lovely one!

I was looking forward to read more from Sonali Dev and I also have a couple of books waiting for me to read. Have you read anything by her? I recommend you to read her. She has JAFF/Austenesque books and non-JAFF too (not everything is JAFF in my blog 😉 )

MINI-REVIEW

So much feeling in a short story.
Grief can blind everyone and make everything numb.
I have liked this story very much as it shows how losing somebody can make us believe what we are supposed to do without asking anything or anyone and, in this case, putting everyone else before us.

I got the ARC on NetGalley for an honest review.

You can pre-order this short story on: Amazon UK Amazon US Amazon CA

New Year – New Habits

Dear all,

I wish you a happy 2022! I hope you have good health this year, everything else can be sorted if we have good health (although I wish you all the best too and hope that your goals and objectives are achieved).

This year I am going to try to review more (here on the blog), but not only for reviews of blog tours where I am participating but also other books I read. Moreover, I want to read other genres apart from JAFF/Austenesque. Not because I do not like it anymore, but because I like it too much!! It may not make sense but I promise I will try to explain myself regarding JAFF:

  • Sometimes I get to read three or four JAFF books in a row and I normally do not review them, or I only put a couple of sentences on Goodreads.
  • This makes my mind mix books or, regrettably, forget which book was which.
  • Therefore, I only enjoy the books while I read them, not afterwards.
  • and I love to remember the scenes or the plot of some books without mixing them with others. Examples of books that I recall perfectly well and I could explain my favourite parts or say even a quote or two from the book: Abigail ReynoldsTo Conquer Mr. Darcy; Joana StarnesMr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter“; When They Fall in Love by Mary Lydon Simonsen; or Green Card by Elizabeth Adams, among others. [All of them completely different from each other and you may not like some, but I have read them with time, without mixing other plots and I have read them a couple of times most of them too]
  • That’s why I will review more! and I hope you like it even if means no giveaways or shared deleted scenes or excerpts.

I want to review to help myself but if somebody likes those extra reviews, even better. I have decided that the reviews may be simpler or shorter, but I just want to give a glimpse of what I have liked (or not) of those books. However, that may mean a bit less personal touch (no author’s input for instance) but what I would love then is to read comments of people who may have read the same book, or perhaps a comment from somebody who is now a bit intrigued about the book.

I am very glad that quite a few of you follow my blog and like to read what I write and follow a lot of those authors. I do not want that to change, so I hope I do not annoy you too much!!

Feel free to comment if you think what I have written here makes no sense, or if you can understand my need to review more, or you can relate to my “problem” with JAFF/Austenesque.

All the best for 2022! Thank you for being there 🙂

Ana

New winner of “Mages and Mysteries” by Victoria Kincaid

Dear all,

As darcybennet, the winner of the giveaway by Victoria Kincaid, won already the ebook in another blog stop, here you have the new winner using the randomiser:

Buturot, congratulations! Please email me on myvicesandweaknesses (at) gmail (dot) com with the email address you prefer to receive the ebook and what format you use.

Winners of different giveaways! Check for your name :)

Dear all,

Apologies for taking a bit longer to publish the name of the winner of three giveaways I had to reveal. As usual, I have used random.org to get the winners.

Without further ado, let’s start!

Victoria Kincaid was giving away an ebook copy of Mages and Mysteries… and the winner is:

Congratulations, darcybennett!

Bronwen Chisholm was giving away one ebook copy of Son of an Earl… and the winner is:

Congratulations, Alexandra!

Ridge Kennedy was giving away one ebook copy of Murder & Miss Austen’s Ball… and the winner is:

Congratulations, darcybennett! (again 🙂 )

Please, send me an email to myvicesandweaknesses (at) gmail (dot) com, state the giveaway you won and most importantly, write the email address you want to use to get your ebook.

Thank you all for your comments and I wish you a lovely Christmas time if you celebrate it, if not, I wish you a good rest if you are able to enjoy a few days off.

Best,

Ana

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